Heavy rains in California the weekend of March 19-20 and more rain the week of March 21 were taking their toll on strawberry, broccoli, cauliflower and other produce crops.

Strawberry supplies could be limited through March, but by the week of April 4, they should be back to normal, said Russ Widerburg, sales manager for  Oxnard, Calif.-based Boskovich Farms.

Some prices the week of March 28 could get up to $12 per box, but for the most part they should stay in the $10 range, Widerburg said.

Ad prices in the $9-10 range for Easter, which falls on April 24, should hold, with ample supplies expected, he said.

The effects of rain the week of March 21 were being felt in strawberry markets, said Doug Ranno, chief operating officer and managing partner of Colorful Harvest LLC, Salinas, Calif. He agrees with Widerburg, however, that effects will likely be temporary.

“It’s making the price in Florida go very high,” Ranno said. “It’s set everybody back in California, but eventually California will catch up and it should be a pretty good April.”

As of March 23, Ranno said the rains would likely have only a slight effect on overall California volumes. 

Damage was worse in Oxnard because the region is in the middle of production, said Cindy Jewell, marketing director for Watsonville-based California Giant Inc.

The Santa Maria region, now in the early stages of production, has more time to make up for rain-related losses, she said.

The week of March 21, many shippers reported a large number of strawberries being shipped out on trucks bound for juice markets. A small percentage was salvageable for the fresh market, and some berries had to be thrown away.

Broccoli and cauliflower

The weather was throwing a wrench in broccoli and cauliflower markets as the Yuma, Ariz., deals wound down and the Salinas, Calif., deals picked up steam.

Excessive rains and extremes of temperature will likely produce a series of supply gaps that will likely last into May, said Kevin Jordan, director of sales and marketing for Santa Maria-based Adam Bros. Produce Sales Inc.

Those gaps should translate into strong markets, Jordan said.

“There should be good pricing the next four to six to eight weeks,” he said March 22. “April should be interesting.”

Cauliflower fields in Salinas were too muddy for crews to get in the first half of the week of March 21, said Wyatt Maker, salesman for Castroville, Calif.-based Ocean Mist Farms.

“I haven’t seen it like this in years,” Maker said. He estimated that volumes out of Salinas were down 35% because of the rains.

The weekend of March 19-20, the Santa Maria region of California where Adam Bros. sources its broccoli and cauliflower received 3 ½ inches of rain, Jordan said. Other California growing regions received as much as 10 inches.